“For them to say —’His role has been so significant, so important, that we hate to see him leave’ — is an unbelievable compliment.”
“When I came out here three years ago, no one had any idea who I was. Now even my opponents are saying, ‘This person had an impact and we wish he would stay.’
“I’m kind of gratified and humbled by the comments.”
Wow. Not only is that impressive restraint, but it’s exactly the kind of response Nebraskans want to hear out of the “level-headed” candidate.
And then for the return volley, Johanns smartly lets a surrogate – this time Senator Chuck Hagel – handle the harsh words. And harsh they were:
(Senator Ben ) Nelson took Johanns to task for not staying through to see the farm bill finished. It sets policy on farm subsidies, nutrition programs and conservation spending.
That prompted a retort from Hagel, who said that the Senate Agriculture Committee chairman, Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, hasn’t yet even offered a proposal for a farm bill in his committee.
“Mike Johanns can’t do anything about that,” Hagel said Thursday. “That’s Democratic leadership. To try to say that somehow Mike Johanns has failed getting a farm bill is laughable and ignorant.”
Everyone has their strategy. Bruning’s is slash and burn. Daub’s will be an attempt to shake every hand possible and out smart ‘em. But Johanns – and probably Kerrey’s, if he gets in – will be to be smile and chuckle and let someone else wield the dagger.
Now we’ll say this: to pound Johanns may have been the right move. Most people stick with their first impression, and how many, after they heard all the rest, will hear Johanns response?
But we can’t argue with Johanns strategy.
He is no political novice.